I was blessed to have grown up in a household where I was encouraged to work hard and chase my dreams. No matter what I decided to do in this world, the main objective should be to be happy.
Riches come in many flavors, it does not always translate to making lots of money. We were told often “the best things in life are free”. Which helped explain the longer rides to visit relatives verses paying a quarter for the NYS Thruway. Looking back, quality time in the car playing license plate bingo and punch bug are priceless memories.
Growing up, I was fascinated with math and science, which lead to my chemistry teacher asking me to join the computer club. From that day forward, I was obsessed with technology. I was the only female “computer geek” in the club. This was in the late 1970’s. I was often the only female in many college classes. Today, there are nationwide STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) programs for women and girls — everything from summer camps, to undergraduate internships, research programs, scholarships, and fellowships. My heart warms when I hear of advancements in STEM by women and the numerous programs providing opportunities for young women and girls to excel in these fields.
I remember finding it difficult to understand why I was the only person certified in a technology platform with the most experience and the lowest paid. Listening to my boss at that time spend countless hours justifying why my male co-workers’ annual salaries were justified, instead of spending that time working to get me to the same level, to this day still bothers me. I often wonder how his wife and daughters would have felt in this situation. Would he have felt differently if they were treated this way? The excuse I hear most often when I repeat this story is, that was business culture back then.
So now, what’s the excuse?
My journey in a male dominate technology field has been interesting and I have run into many obstacles along the way.
I try to keep a simple compass that guides me. I have a personal purpose statement to help me stay true to myself. “I pave my own path, trying to make a difference”
I never focus on traditional paths. If by chance, I hit a dead end, I do not go back, I concentrate on creating a new a path. Looking for ways to progress forward making a difference along the way. I believe every journey prepares me for my next, strengthening and shaping us along the way.
Let no one define who you are, or what success means to you.
Do not be intimidated by job titles; they should not translate to “I have more power over you”.
I refuse to have my job title on my door or desk – I am an individual with job responsibilities. I am no better or worse, I am equal to all my other fellow co-workers. We all have value.
We all know women who have been in difficult situations and not treated fairly.
I challenge all women to look in the mirror, take a good look at your environments and ask yourselves honestly – Are you part of the problem or part of the solution? Meaning, if we sit by and let these wrongs happen, we are part of the problem.
We need to stand united and courageously and continue to encourage each other to stand up and fight for our equality.
Let this day – August 26th, National Women’s Equality Day reminds us Women’s Equality in not one and done – it’s a journey, take time to acknowledge and appreciate all year long the progress women are making all over the world. Take a stance and become part of the solution!